Georgina Beyer on giving minorities a voice for positive and affirmative change towards full equality
"Sex workers deserve human rights, the same as anybody else"
SEX WORK IS WORK BANNER. LONDON.
An important advocate within the political landscape of New Zealand (and internationally) Georgina Beyer was the first openly trans Mayor and MP in her native New Zealand, and is also a former sex worker, campaigning for sex worker's rights internationally.
Beyer uses her experiences to campaign for prostitution legislation and LGBTQIA+ rights in New Zealand.
This week, DIVA was lucky enough to catch up with Georgina after her address to the famous Oxford Union in London.
DIVA: What brings you to the UK, and more specifically to Oxford Union?
GEORGINA BEYER: Unexpectedly, an invitation arrived from the Oxford Union inviting me to address them. At first, I didn’t believe it was real. It was an opportunity that I just couldn’t refuse given that I’m only the fourth New Zealander to speak at the Oxford Union – and the first of Maori descent.
Tell us more about the incredible work that you do.
New Zealand has been celebrating 125 years of women’s enfranchisement – with New Zealand being the first country in the world to give women the vote. I have been honoured to have been included in many of the official events. As a trans person, this is a real example of inclusion and diversity within this important celebration.
Before I departed for the UK, I was presented with a camellia brooch, the white camellia being a symbol of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. I really was honoured to be the first female former member of parliament to receive one.
Georgina Beyer: “When I got the call about the 1995 mayoral election, it descended on me and I was thinking - what the hell do I do now?! In the end, I took to the role like a duck to water” pic.twitter.com/hWWDOMCPTt— Oxford Union (@OxfordUnion) October 23, 2018
What needs to happen for the kind of sex worker laws which exist in New Zealand to become something realised and able to protect women in the UK?
Prostitution reform in New Zealand was not about condoning the activity, rather it was about occupational health and safety, protection and human rights for sex workers. Bringing prostitution into the light with regulation minimises the criminal elements. A sex worker can say no, and it means no.
Sex workers deserve human rights, the same as anybody else.
How can DIVA readers support your work?
By giving minorities a voice for positive and affirmative change towards full equality, whether that's at work, by supporting your family and friends, or as an activist.
Georgina Beyer: “Diversity is not something to be afraid of, and sometimes religion is the problem. Discriminating against vulnerable minorities countermands the principles of inclusion and love that underpin the Bible” pic.twitter.com/DlKcN3DN7G— Oxford Union (@OxfordUnion) October 23, 2018
What's your mantra?
All people have the right to be comfortable in their own skin and to be given the opportunity to be full participants in their own society.
Have you been following the GRA consultation in the UK?
I am aware of the GRA consultation and I think it’s a no-brainer. It's vital for the trans community that this reform comes to pass. New Zealand is going through a similar piece of legislation at the moment, which is likely to be passed with little opposition.
Read more about her appearence at the Oxford Union here.
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